Thursday, September 21, 2023


You might not have the right driver’s license for your RV; laws vary by state

Do you have the right driver’s license to drive an RV? I was so surprised, actually shocked, the other day to find out I did not have the right license to drive our motorhome, at least in Arkansas! The RV dealer had repeatedly said, “You don’t need a special license to drive a motorhome.” Well, that was WRONG!

What license is required to drive an RV?

Any RV under 26,000 pounds and under 45 feet is good to go with a standard driver’s license in any state. After that, it gets a bit tricky. For over 26,000 pounds and longer than 45 feet, trailers over 10,000 pounds or with multiple trailers, some states require special licenses.

Special driver’s licenses for some states

Not all states require special licenses for driving or towing over 26,000 lbs. The requirements for driver’s licenses vary in the states that do between Class A CDL, B CDL, B, C, D, E, F, double RR and single R. Who knew? Did you know?

Class A CDL: Commercial CDL—Think commercial semi-truck with tractor trailers or towing multiple vehicles totaling over 26,000 lbs. or a vehicle over 26,000 lbs. and towing a 10,000 lb. trailer.

Class B CDL: Hmm, Arkansas requires a Class B commercial driver’s license for any vehicle over 26,000 pounds. That causes a lot of discussion among RVers online. RVs are usually not a commercial vehicle. There was so much discussion that after not getting a clear answer on the Arkansas DMV website I called. I was told, according to the DMV CDL department, “A Class B CDL is required for all vehicles over 26,000 lbs., even RVs, whether commercial or not.”

Class B Non-commercial license may be required if driving a single unit over 26,000 lbs. Some states will issue a Class B non-commercial license even when not required, if requested.

Class C CDL: Required to drive a vehicle transporting over 16 passengers.

Class D: Standard, non-commercial driver’s license required to operate a vehicle under 26,000 lbs., and in some states personal use RVs over 26,000 lbs.

Class E: South Carolina’s designation for over 26,000 lbs. for a single vehicle.

Class F: South Carolina’s designation for driving an RV over 26,000 lbs. and towing 10,000 lbs.

Double RR: Towing both a fifth wheel and a trailer together.

Single R: Endorsement in New York state for over 26,000 lbs.

Confused yet?

Geez, are you confused yet? I sure was. I spent my time looking at charts online and found they all differ in states’ requirements. Ones that are not listed as needing special licenses may indeed require one. Ones that are listed as needing one, might not. Yep, confusing.

Don’t believe everything you read online!

I visited multiple websites and they all differed to some degree. I am deep into researching this and making phone calls, and I am finding a number of errors! Did anyone do their research or did AI write all these laws? And remember, don’t believe the RV salesperson either.

Several websites list the RV driving rules across the U.S. This seems to be the most accurate one, and yet there are discrepancies. Camping World even has a chart, but it also differs info obtained from calls to a few of the states’ DMV websites.

Fact check

With all the different information out there, you need to fact check with your home state for its requirements. Even better than their website is a direct call to the state DMV. I have found getting to the CDL department right away shortens the wait time.

Calling requires dedication to being on hold. And, after hours on hold, getting the “Thank you for your patience” does wear thin.

These are discrepancies I found from charts or the state’s official websites.

Minnesota: Although a Class B CDL is listed as needed, a quick call to the DMV CDL department said that no Class B license is required for driving a private RV, so a Class D license is fine.

Kansas: Kansas is listed as requiring a Class B CDL, but says it is not required for non-commercial RV use. They will issue a Class B license if desired.

New Mexico is listed as needing a Class B CDL or Class E and, again, is not required for non-commercial RV use, per phone call to the New Mexico DMV.

Can I drive in a state that requires a special license if I don’t need one in my state?

If you’re concerned about license requirements in the states you are driving through, check with that state ahead of time. While most states honor the licenses issued in other states, some states don’t.

In Arkansas, NO! Don’t cross that state line and get stopped without a Class B CDL. They will ticket you. To add more confusion, Arkansas said they were following Federal Guidelines.

Do you know anything more about this? Do you have any experience with a special driver’s license for your RV? Please leave a comment and explain.


Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.


  1. Thank you, Nanci! Wow! We have driven in Arkansas a few times over the last 6 years. Our rig is titled and licensed in Tennessee, and we are residents with Tennessee driver licenses. I guess I should be thankful that I never drew the attention of Arkansas state troopers during any of our trips into or through the state. I hope to avoid gathering first-hand information on the degree to which they do/do not accept Tennessee licensing requirements to drive a 37,000 pound motorhome.

    • All states accept the resident licensing state requirements, and no state allows multiple state licenses, so you cannot get a ARK CDL as a TN resident.

  2. The only thing that an RV place is interested in is selling it. And they will tell you that you don’t need a special license to operate that vehicle. Wrong answer!!!! You need to know how to drive that vehicle. And how to operate it. And inspect it for defects that you can see that need repair. You might not have an accident with the vehicle. It’s like driving a truck and flying a helicopter and an aircraft. Learn the rules before you drive. Have a safe trip any where you travel.

  3. Since it is illegal to hold licenses in two states and Colorado does not have any special license requirements for large RV’s and trailers over 26,000lbs per Colorado Statue. It would be impossible to obtain a Class B without breaking the law. I carry a copy of the Colorado statute with me. In addition, all states accept the requirements set forth by the license issuing state.

  4. In Texas you need a class B CDL for a 45 footer Motorhome. My husband had to take the driving test at the DPS. It’s a 500.00 ticket.

    • Thank you Patty. Is the rig registered in Texas? Are you and the hubby Texas residents? Curious for those of us passing through Texas with no class B, CDL.
      THANKS in advance.

  5. The reason for different licensing by State is simple: The 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution says- “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” All licensing (and insurance regulations, by the way) fall into the category of States’ Rights. Most States recognize this problem and somewhat alleviate the issue with reciprocity agreements between States. But this is far from a complete solution for a increasingly mobile society.

    • Unfortunately this may end up in the Supreme Court as all States Rights issues have so much crossover in many areas if our legal system. Concealed carry or simple gun ownership, being primary among that crossover. If an issue that is named specifically in our Constitutionally protected Rights is non-reciprical, how can a DL be an automatic for reciprocity.

      Freedom of interstate movement, nationally as a Constitutionally protected right, including for commerce may be the foundation for a ruling that this will fall upon. It depends on if a case for interstate travel can be made as a Constitutionally protected right when it comes to DLs.

      Any precedent set will have hundreds of offshoot applications for precedent.

      Just my thoughts. Don’t flame me for thinking and writing them.

  6. My understanding is that the license requirements apply for the state where the vehicle is registered. If you visit another state they can’t apply their license requirements.

  7. Sorry Nancy, but you’re wrong. All 50 states have reciprocity agreements that allow drivers properly licensed in the state where they live and their vehicle is registered to legally drive in the other states. This has nothing to do with RV’ing. If these agreements didn’t exist, you couldn’t legally drive anything outside of your own state.
    Before you start giving legal advice, I’d suggest you consult a lawyer, NOT somebody answering a phone in a DMV office – many of whom are as clueless as you are…

  8. Why can’t we just have one set of laws for all drivers? Not sure of the answer but I suspect power and money has something to do with it

  9. PA requires a Class B for over 26,000 lbs. I had to go through special training with a certified state trainer, before taking the drivers test for my 40,000 lbs motor home. I’m glad I did. It made taking the driving test a breeze, and ridding you of bad habits.

    Not cheap though.

  10. To add to the confusion, Pennsylvania has a Class A-non CDL classification that is required for towing multiple vehicles totaling over 26,000 lbs. or a vehicle over 26,000 lbs.

    • In Pennsylvania, a Non CDL class B vehicle is 26,001# or larger single vehicle or can be also towing a trailer weighing up to 10,000#. Non CDL class A vehicle weighing 26,001# or larger and towing a trailer weighing 10,001# or larger. Also taken into consideration if the towing vehicle has air brakes. When having a non commercial A or B license, and if the towing vehicle has air brakes, the air brake restriction must also be removed. Having an air braked equipped vehicle alone does not require having the restriction removed unless it falls into the above class A or B designation. I was a Commercial CDL class A licensed driver until retirement and just dropped the commercial designation to save in licensing costs. I am still able to drive the same vehicles (and RV’s) as before, but NOT commercially. Retired DLE. State of Pa.

      • 👍👍👍👍. You nailed it. I have a class B for our 40 foot 34,000 pound MH. I had to demonstrate that I knew how to do the air brake drain down test, drive on the road, parking and backing up maneuvers on their course. For those that don’t have the necessary driver’s license for your state and really don’t care to get one, you may be at risk with your insurance company if you are at fault in an accident.

  11. Fifty States, fifty different ideas. What is needed is a “group” of DMV’s and Universal Standards.
    Now, get into vehicle inspections.


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